Skin cancer experts today issued a stark warning to Midlanders after new statistics reveal nearly 80 per cent do not know what the UV Index is.
Although most weather forecasts include this information, many people are unaware of what the readings mean.
Over-exposure to the ultra-violet rays, measured by the UV Index, can cause skin cancer.
The system, developed by the World Health Organisation, gauges what the peak UV radiation will be and provides a more accurate indication of sunburn potential than the temperature itself.
Cancer Research UK and Boots, which commissioned the research for Sun Awareness Week, found Midlanders were the least likely in England to know what the UV index was for.
Despite their ignorance, more than eight out of ten described themselves as 'fair skinned' and more than half admitted to getting sunburnt.
Jo Viner Smith, manager of the charity's Sun Smart campaign, said: "These results are quite alarming, especially following the warnings issued recently that we may be in for a heatwave this summer.
"It is particularly worrying that more than 70 per cent of people in the Midlands with very fair skin, who are most at risk of skin cancer, do not know what the UV Index is.
"Fair-skinned people can burn in as little as 30 minutes when the UV is seven."
She added: "More than 700,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Britain each year, so it is vital people know when to cover up." nFor more information about UV Index go to www.sunsmart.org.uk